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Posted at 03:34 AM ET, 05/02/2011

Abbottabad: Pakistan town where Osama bin Laden was killed


A view of Abbottabad, Pakistan, from the surrounding hills.
President Obama announced late Sunday that the al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden had been killed at a compound in the Pakistan city of Abbottabad.

The city, founded by British military officer James Abbott in 1853 as a military cantonment and summer retreat, is the headquarters of a brigade of the Pakistan Army’s 2nd Division and home to many retired military officials.

Abbott wrote a poem to the city that reads in part:

I adored the place from the first sight

And was happy that my coming here was right

And eight good years here passed very soon

And we leave our perhaps on a sunny noon

Oh Abbottabad we are leaving you now

To your natural beauty do I bow

Perhaps your winds sound will never reach my ear

My gift for you is a few sad tears

I bid you farewell with a heavy heart

Never from my mind will your memories thwart

Abbottabad’s mild temperatures and picturesque views of the surrounding Sarban hills made it a popular destination for Pakistani tourists looking for relief during the brutally hot summer months.

The people of Abbottabad are an ethnically diverse group, most of whom speak the Indo-Aryan language Hindko and are known collectively as the Hindkowans. At one time they practiced Hinduism but most are now Sunni Muslims.

Bin Laden managed to go undetected in Abbottabad by hiding in “an extraordinarily unique compound,” that with 12- to 18-foot security walls, the Post’s Philip Rucker, Anne E. Kornblut and Ernesto Londono report. It wasn’t clear how long the al-Qaeda leader had been holed up there, but officials said they had been eyeing the compound “for months” after receiving a tip in August 2010.

The last time the mountainous resort town’s name appeared widely in American news reports was in 2005 when the city was hit hard by the Kashmir earthquake that killed more than 73,000 people across northern Pakistan.

Pranksters on Google Maps have located what is presumably bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, rating it with five stars, “Great property to get away from it all. Must See!”

See more photos from Abottabad at the photo-sharing site Flickr.


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By Mike McPhate  |  03:34 AM ET, 05/02/2011

 
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